WOMEN’S wheelchair basketball is finally entering the 21st century. 

At least, that’s what Scottish GB internationalist, Robyn Love, firmly believes. 

Later this month, the UK’s first-ever women’s para-sport professional league will launch, with Love one of the headline names in the Women’s Premier League, which is the first of its kind for women’s wheelchair basketball. 

The 31-year-old from Ayr will spearhead Loughborough Lightening and for someone who has represented GB at two Paralympic Games, this is a development that has not come a moment too soon. 

“Wheelchair basketball is a mixed sport at club level so saying women’s wheelchair basketball is not a sentence that comes up very regularly. So this league is an amazing development,” she says. 

“This is, I believe, the first step into the 21st century for the sport.  

“Young girls with a disability need to have a space where they feel comfortable and they feel empowered. I got a lot of my confidence from sport and so to be a part of this is brilliant and a huge step for the sport.” 

The pandemic may have played havoc with the sporting calendar over the past couple of years but despite that, Love has had a number of career milestones. 

Last summer, she made her second Paralympic Games appearance, representing GB as they finished eighth in Tokyo. 

For a team who were targeting a medal, it was not the result they wanted but just a few months later, the side, captained by Love, bounced back to win a silver medal in December’s European Championships. 

This is not, by a long shot, the life Love envisaged for herself. 

She developed a passion for sport early but having been born with arthrogryposis which resulted in one leg being longer than the other, as well as muscles being missing in both legs, she quickly realised there were only certain sports in which she was able to showcase her natural sporting talent. 

“Growing up, I loved sport and I practically spent my life in my PE department at school. I wanted to become a PE teacher and that’s what I thought I’d end up doing,” she says. 

“I hated running but I used PE as a way of making out I wasn’t disabled – I felt empowered by it because even though I wasn’t as fast at running, as soon as there was a racket or a ball involved, I was one of the best and that was really empowering for me.” 

While at university in Edinburgh in 2013, Love tried wheelchair basketball for the first time and from there, she was set on the path to the top. 

She quickly progressed, making her GB debut less then two years later and her Paralympic debut a year after that. 

There is one ambition, however, Love has yet to fulfill. 

Despite having established herself as a regular in the GB set-up, Love has never had the opportunity to represent her home nation of Scotland

That will almost certainly be rectified very soon. 

This summer’s Commonwealth Games will see wheelchair basketball make its debut but first, Scotland must navigate the qualifiers to ensure they will be in Birmingham in a few months’ time. 

The qualifying tournament, which will see the Scots face Wales and Northern Ireland for a place at Birmingham 2022, was due to take place between Christmas and New Year but the rising Covid cases saw the tournament postponed until this spring. 

For Love, it cannot come soon enough. 

While the squad is still to be formally announced, it seems unimaginable there will not be a place for Love and, she admits, she gets goosebumps merely thinking about the prospect of pulling on a Scottish vest for the first time. 

“This is going to be huge for me – just the thought of singing Flower of Scotland is amazing, I’m pretty sure I’ll be greeting,” she says.  

“It was a real shame the qualifiers were postponed last month but I think it was the right decision and I can’t wait for the rescheduled date now.” 

If Scotland are to make it to the Commonwealth Games, it will be a huge moment for Love personally but even more significant is likely to be the impact the Scots’ presence in the tournament will have on the sport in this country. 

And that, believes Love, cannot be overstated. 

“Being a part of the Commonwealth Games is huge. The Paralympics are obviously massive and I really believe in the social impact sport can have,” she says. 

“This is such an exciting opportunity to put wheelchair basketball on the map in Scotland. 

“Able-bodied people can also easily play and it’s a sport that’s so exciting to watch. It’s fast, it’s dynamic and the chair just adds a different element to it. 

“To me, wheelchair basketball is just a sport, it’s not a para-sport so I’m excited to get that message out to people.” 

Love made have made a name for herself on the basketball court, but she is also a vocal supporter of both disability rights and LGBTQ rights off the court. 

It is something that comes as second nature to Love and, she believes, is hugely important in changing people’s attitude to disabled people. 

“When I was growing up, I always felt like disability representation wasn’t really a thing,” she says.  

“I want to use my voice to show people that being disabled can be a positive thing, it doesn’t have to be a negative, especially when sport is involved. 

“In society, I feel like we’re not as accessible as we can be and that really frustrates me. 

“I always say that people aren’t disabled, society disables people. So, for me, it’s really important to use my platform to call that out.”